When a lawmaker retires, he hopes that voters and reporters will take a look back at all his legislative achievements. But poor David Wu--his signature accomplishment might be getting re-elected despite increasingly weird and unsavory behavior. Wu said he'd resign from Congress Tuesday after House Democrats urged an investigation into allegations that he engaged in "unwanted sexual behavior" with the teen daughter of a friend.
But that incident, reported Friday, was just the first in a string of questionable episodes which caused his staff to resign after confronting him in what sounds a lot like an intervention, staged with his psychiatrist just before the 2010 midterm elections.
What happened to David Wu? After growing up as an overachiever--he attended Stanford, Harvard, and Yale--and becoming the first Chinese-American elected to Congress, he's leaving office as the butt of infinite Internet jokes. But looking back at past behavior, a pattern emerges.
Summer 1976: Wu's ex-girlfriend at Stanford accuses him of trying to force her to have sex. Initially, Wu claimed it was consensual, telling police, "I was with my girlfriend, and we just got a little carried away," according to the officer's memory. The woman declined to press charges.
August 1998: After months of friction with Wu, his campaign manager quits upon hearing rumor of the assault, later calling it "a very small, but final, straw that broke the camel's back."
October 2004: The Oregonian brings the Stanford incident to light. Wu issues a statement reversing his original position, calling the incident "inexcusable behavior on my part," and explaining, "As a 21-year-old, I hurt someone I cared very much about. I take full responsibility for my actions and I am very sorry... This single event forever changed my life and the person that I have become."
Update: A reader alerts that on February 19, 2010, Wu totaled a rental car after smashing into a parked Ford Focus near Portland, the Willamette Week reported. According to public records, the Focus' owner told the 911 operator, "I'm assuming that there's some kind of disability, if he was driving on the wrong side of the street... He says he fell asleep. I don't believe him."
October 27, 2010: Wu gives a loud, angry speech, causing a member of the Washington County Democratic Party member to complain formally.
October 29, 2010: A traveler files a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration after Wu manages to convince a TSA employee let him into a restricted area of the Portland airport to try to convince de-planing passengers to vote for him. The outburst was followed two days later by an episode at Portland International Airport, where Wu used his influence as a member of Congress to enter a restricted area and campaign for votes from off-loading passengers.
Wee hours of October 30, 2010: Female staffers receive several strange emails written from Wu's private address but signed by his teenage children. One urged, "Cut him some slack, man. What he does when he's wasted is send emails, not harass people he works with." Another said, "My Dad says you're the best because not even my Mom put up with him for [REDACTED: #] years and you have. We think you're cool." Another was the infamous photo of Wu dressed in a Tiger suit. His aides believe all the messages were sent by Wu himself from his BlackBerry.
(Photo via Willamette Week/Associated Press.)
October 30, 2010: Wu's staff confronts him about his erratic behavior over the four previous days, bringing his psychiatrist into the meeting. His pollster had emailed staffers earlier that day, saying, "This is way beyond acceptable levels and the charade needs to end NOW... No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help and you need to be protected. Nothing else matters right now. Nothing else." But Wu wouldn't listen to his aides' appeals, and told them he was leaving to go see a movie.
February 23, 2011: Wu apologizes on Good Morning America for sending the tiger photo. "I think a take home lesson from this is that while [the photos] were very, very unprofessional you shouldn't ever send photographs of yourself in a Halloween costume, something you intend to wear to a private party a couple nights later," Wu admitted. "It's just not professional even when you're joshing around with your kids a couple nights before Halloween. I did send those photographs, it was unprofessional and inappropriate."
Hours later on February 23, 2011: Wu admits to the Oregonian that he took oxycontin from a campaign donor for neck pain. "The donor offered me an alternative painkiller, and I took two tablets. This was the only time that this has ever happened... I recognize that my action showed poor judgment at the time, and I sincerely regret having put my staff in a difficult position."
July 22, 2011: The Oregonian reports a woman, 18, left distraught voicemails at Wu's congressional office "accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter." She was the daughter of Wu's high school friend, and initially, Wu told aides the incident was consensual and the newspaper only that: "This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention, or stress to a young woman and her family."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”
You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.
At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.
It’s a shame that the standard way of learning how to cook is by following recipes. To be sure, they are a wonderfully effective way to approximate a dish as it appeared in a test kitchen, at a star chef’s restaurant, or on TV. And they can be an excellent inspiration for even the least ambitious home cooks to liven up a weeknight dinner. But recipes, for all their precision and completeness, are poor teachers. They tell you what to do, but they rarely tell you why to do it.
This means that for most novice cooks, kitchen wisdom—a unified understanding of how cooking works, as distinct from the notes grandma lovingly scrawled on index-card recipes passed down through the generations—comes piecemeal. Take, for instance, the basic skill of thickening a sauce. Maybe one recipe for marinara advises reserving some of the starchy pasta water, for adding later in case the sauce is looking a little thin. Another might recommend rescuing a too-watery sauce with some flour, and still another might suggest a handful of parmesan. Any one of these recipes offers a fix under specific conditions, but after cooking through enough of them, those isolated recommendations can congeal into a realization: There are many clever ways to thicken a sauce, and picking an appropriate one depends on whether there’s some leeway for the flavor to change and how much time there is until dinner needs to be on the table.
A lab has successfully gestated premature lambs in artificial wombs. Are humans next?
When babies are born at 24 weeks’ gestation, “it is very clear they are not ready to be here,” says Emily Partridge, a research fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Doctors dress the hand-sized beings in miniature diapers and cradle them in plastic incubators, where they are fed through tubes. In many cases, IV lines deliver sedatives to help them cope with the ventilators strapped to their faces.
Each year, about 30,000 American babies are born this early—considered “critically preterm,” or younger than 26 weeks. Before 24 weeks, only about half survive, and those who live are likely to endure long-term medical complications. “Among those that survive, the challenges are things we all take for granted, like walking, talking, seeing, hearing,” says Kevin Dysart, a neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital.
Film, television, and literature all tell them better. So why are games still obsessed with narrative?
A longstanding dream: Video games will evolve into interactive stories, like the ones that play out fictionally on the Star Trek Holodeck. In this hypothetical future, players could interact with computerized characters as round as those in novels or films, making choices that would influence an ever-evolving plot. It would be like living in a novel, where the player’s actions would have as much of an influence on the story as they might in the real world.
It’s an almost impossible bar to reach, for cultural reasons as much as technical ones. One shortcut is an approach called environmental storytelling. Environmental stories invite players to discover and reconstruct a fixed story from the environment itself. Think of it as the novel wresting the real-time, first-person, 3-D graphics engine from the hands of the shooter game. In Disneyland’s Peter Pan’s Flight, for example, dioramas summarize the plot and setting of the film. In the 2007 game BioShock, recorded messages in an elaborate, Art Deco environment provide context for a story of a utopia’s fall. And in What Remains of Edith Finch, a new game about a girl piecing together a family curse, narration is accomplished through artifacts discovered in an old house.
They’re stuck between corporations trying to extract maximum profits from each flight and passengers who can broadcast their frustration on social media.
Two weeks ago, a man was violently dragged off a United Airlines flight after being told it was overbooked. And late last week, American Airlines suspended a flight attendant after a fight nearly broke out between a passenger and the crew, over a stroller. What did the two incidents have in common? Both stories went viral after passengers’ videos showcased the rotten conditions of flying in coach today. But also, in both cases, it’s not particularly clear that the airline employees caught on camera had many better options.
On the infamous United flight, employees, following protocol, had to call security agents to remove a passenger in Chicago, due to a last-minute need to transport crew to fly out of Louisville the following day. United’s contract of carriage gives employees broad latitude to deny boarding to passengers. On the other hand, it is terrible to force a sitting passenger to get up and de-board a plane. So, the attendants were stuck: Either four people already seated had to leave the plane, or a flight scheduled the next day would have been grounded due to the lack of crew—which would have punished even more paying customers.
Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.
As Christmas approached in 2015, the price of pumpkin-pie spice went wild. It didn’t soar, as an economics textbook might suggest. Nor did it crash. It just started vibrating between two quantum states. Amazon’s price for a one-ounce jar was either $4.49 or $8.99, depending on when you looked. Nearly a year later, as Thanksgiving 2016 approached, the price again began whipsawing between two different points, this time $3.36 and $4.69.
We live in the age of the variable airfare, the surge-priced ride, the pay-what-you-want Radiohead album, and other novel price developments. But what was this? Some weird computer glitch? More like a deliberate glitch, it seems. “It’s most likely a strategy to get more data and test the right price,” Guru Hariharan explained, after I had sketched the pattern on a whiteboard.
The Justice Department said it would withhold jurisdictions’ federal funding if they don’t start playing ball with immigration authorities. In his ruling, Judge William Orrick said those threats were empty.
A federal district court in California on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing part of a January executive order to defund “sanctuary cities,” ruling that the directive likely exceeded federal law and unfairly targeted those jurisdictions.
“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration-enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” federal judge William Orrick wrote.
The preliminary injunction blocks the federal government from enforcing Section 9(a) of the executive order nationwide while legal proceedings continue. That section authorized the attorney general to “take appropriate enforcement action” against “sanctuary jurisdictions” that “willfully refuse to comply” with Section 1373, a provision in federal immigration law that bars local jurisdictions from refusing to provide immigration-status information to federal agents.
An exploration of syndromes that are unique to particular cultures.
You can’t get your genitals stolen in America.
At least, not while they’re attached to your body. But people can in Nigeria, Benin, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In all of these places, there have been cases of koro (also called suo yang in some places), “a cultural syndrome where people feel like their genitals are being sucked into their body,” says Frank Bures. “And there’s a fear of death.” It’s often thought to be caused by some kind of curse, or spell, or spirit—something otherworldly.
This is the condition that sparked Bures’s interest and led to his new book The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes.In it, he investigates mostly penis theft, but also other examples of what are called “cultural syndromes” or “culture-bound syndromes”—conditions that only exist in, and seem to stem from, particular cultures. Other examples include “frigophobia” in China, “a fear of cold which has its roots in traditional Chinese cosmology of balancing between hot and cold”; running “amok” in Malaysia, when people go on a killing spree they can’t remember later; and “hikikomori,” in Japan, when people socially withdraw to the point where they never leave home.
The Hulu show has created a world that’s visually and psychologically unlike anything in film or television.
Call it luck, call it fate, call it the world’s most ridiculous viral marketing campaign, but the first television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is debuting on Wednesday to audiences who are hyper-ready for it. The 1985 speculative fiction work by Margaret Atwood has featured on library waitlists and Amazon’s top 20 for months now—partly in anticipation of the new Hulu show, and partly in response to the strange new landscape that emerged after November 9, wherein women in the millions felt compelled to take to the streets to assert their attachment to reproductive freedom. (When the release date for The Handmaid’s Tale was announced in December, people joked that it would likely be a documentary by the time it arrived on TV screens.)
President Trump's plan will likely advocate for the repeal of a tax that only the ultra-wealthy pay.
I am not the first person President Trump or his economic team looks to for advice on tax reform. But if they wanted some, this is the free advice I’d give them: Don’t cut or eliminate the estate tax—raise it.
Repealing the estate tax—a tax on assets transferred from a deceased individual to their heirs—has become a staple cause among conservative Republicans. Eleven Republican candidates explicitly called for its elimination during the 2016 election. By calling it a “death tax,” and implying that it would hurt tens of millions of ordinary families, and force the sale of long-held family farms and family businesses, Republicans have successfully cast the estate tax as a ubiquitous and pernicious burden. That’s helped them win the public-relations battle over it so far.